SACRAMENTO, Calif. -

A state appeals court has upheld a proposed route for California's bullet train project connecting the San Francisco Bay Area to the Central Valley.

The decision issued Thursday is a short-term win for Gov. Jerry Brown, who has made the $68-billion project a priority.

The original lawsuit filed by Bay Area cities had argued that a planned path through the Pachecho Pass hurts the environment.

The state argued the project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because of federal oversight.

Thursday's court decision left the project open to other environmental lawsuits.

Plaintiffs' attorney Stuart Flashman says it's not clear if his clients will appeal. He says the authority still has a lot of hurdles ahead.

The appeals court is expected to rule on two other high-speed rail challenges.